BreakThrough Study Idea

Mechanical engineering brings innovation to medical treatment.Naohiko Sugita<Series 1 / complete>

Study Idea


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Development of artificial joints using musculoskeletal model

In my laboratory, we are researching production processing such as cutting laser processing and machine tools mainly for CFRP structures, as well as artificial joints, bone resection devices, and surgery support systems making full use of mechanical engineering. SMEs are the cooperating companies, but we also collaborate with large corporations in the form of collaborative social lectures. In recent years, we are working on the prosthetic material used in implants. As the part to be covered by insurance in dentistry has expanded, how to sharpen zirconia ceramics is getting asked.

We are also doing research on custom-made artificial joints. At first, we thought that medical treatment and manufacturing "do not connect," but when we started the investigation, we noticed that there were plenty of contacts. For example, the wisdom of mechanical engineering is fully utilized for rod screws and cartilage materials which are screws used in the body.

As humans get older, they begin to experience pain from the hip or knee joints. In the future, as the super-aged society progresses, demand for artificial joints will expand. However, there are high barriers to approval and launch in the current artificial joint, such as the size being fixed. We make use of the wisdom of mechanical engineering and research to clear such a hurdle. Unfortunately, the current prosthesis is not designed to suit individual patients. Here is the problem of the artificial joint. Therefore, we are researching what kind of artificial joints are suitable for each patient using the musculoskeletal model and to ensure walking function.

Surgical assistance robot that dramatically changed cancer treatment

In what case is the surgical assistance robot worthy of use? That is when the robot replaces what you can not do with the hands of a doctor. For example, in neurosurgery, "Microsurgery" that sews blood vessels of 1 mm or less is done, it will be more efficient to let the robot do this detailed work.

Speaking of the representative case of surgery assistance robot, it will be "Da Vinci." Why did "Da Vinci" hit? That is because "Da Vinci" is best for total prostate cancer painting, which was a killer app against doctors. 80% of prostate cancer total puncture surgery now (2004) is done by "Da Vinci." In the stage of 2000, since there was hardly any case, we can see that it spread rapidly in a short period of about 4 years. In this way, when the surgery assistance robot can do the area that the doctor can not do, it can be understood that innovative change occurs by matching needs and seeds. The focused ultrasound system is also so. This is a convenient thing that you can burn cancer cells with energy that converged ultrasound without putting a scalpel on the human body. While tracking movement of organs, we target and pinpoint cancer cells.

The situation is surrounding the manufacturing industry, which is the main battlefield of mechanical engineering, is changing drastically. The evolution of automobiles has progressed, sustainable society is questioned, culture and lifestyles are diversifying. In such a social environment, can mechanical engineering continue to be necessary for the manufacturing industry? I think that one solution is in the production system and idea method.

Next time, I will explain 'Thinking development' which is an idea method practiced at the University of Tokyo class.

< series 1 / complete >

Naohiko Sugita
Professor of Graduate School of Engineering Department, University of Tokyo

Born in 1970 in Himeji city, Hyogo Prefecture. Raised in Kanazawa city, Ishikawa prefecture. He completed a master's course in the Department of Industrial Mechanical Engineering from the University of Tokyo graduate school in 1996, joined NEC Corporation and belonged to the Microwave Satellite Communications Division. In 2003 he became an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Tokyo graduate school, associate professor in 2007. He took office as a professor in 2014 to the present days. Specialty fields are production engineering, medical processing, metrology. Research fields include production processing (Cutting processing, Laser processing, Laser-assisted), machine tool (CFRP structure), medical application (Artificial joint, Bone resection device, Surgery assistance system), etc.

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